October’s jobs report — which estimated that 271,000 Americans found work last month — left Republicans befuddled or dredging up statistics that they did not know existed a few months ago, mostly showing Baby Boomers are finally able to retire.
After years of demanding, “Where are the jobs?” we’re in the middle of what could be the second best year for job creation of this century — after 2014. This relative boom in employment has come after taxes have risen on the rich and as over 17 million Americans have gained health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.
Still, Republican candidates for president are torn.
Most of them think America should go back to 2008 before all of Obama’s economic stimulating, health insuring, and regulating of Wall Street ruined everything. Others think it is 2008 with America’s economy, foreign policy, and image cratering around the world. Only Donald Trump seems to agree that both now and 2008 were terrible. Apparently the billionaire racist would like to bring America back to the mid-1980s, when our deficit was skyrocketing and we were about to face a record stock market crash. (By the way, Trump was trumpeting a slightly different varietal of his xenophobia as he blasted Reagan in the 1980s. But back then his target was the Japanese.)
Regardless, Republicans are all running for president based on the premise that Barack Obama is a failure on the magnitude of George W. Bush.
This argument makes sense to Republican voters, who tend to shield themselves from science, facts, and basic anatomy lessons. But it is simply insane to anyone else.
In early November 2007, Bush’s Gallup approval rating was 32 percent. At this comparable moment in his presidency, Barack Obama’s approval is at 49 percent, reaching toward the 50 percent mark he hasn’t hit since just after his re-election.
Eventually, Republicans will have to speak to people who think an America that’s safer, stronger and has better access to health care than at any time in our existence in history isn’t all that bad. To prepare them, here are a few charts that show clearly why Barack Obama isn’t George W. Bush.
1. Job Growth under Obama has come entirely from the private sector. Job growth under W. came entirely from the public sector.
These charts from The Washington Post‘s Philip Bump reveal that George W. Bush was a much better socialist than Barack Obama.
2. Unlike W., Obama has made extraordinary leaps toward making America energy independent.
A lot of those gains have come from increased oil drilling and fracking. But thanks to the green energy revolution sparked by Obama’s Stimulus, America’s solar industry now exists and is growing like “kudzu,” explains Politico‘s Mike Grunwald, who wrote the seminal book on how the Obama Adminstration prevented a depression while remaking our economy.
3. People are actually gaining health insurance under Barack Obama.
Now Republicans may think this is bad thing. But many Americans actually prefer 17.6 million people gaining health insurance to 7.9 million losing coverage.
4. The deficit is actually falling under Barack Obama as government spending is growing at the slowest rate since the 1950s.
The deficit just hit an 8-year low. As the creator of these charts — OurFuture.org‘s Dave Johnson — notes, government spending shouldn’t be this low. Not when we could be borrowing money at incredibly low interest rates and rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure. But it is. So attacking the guy who cut the deficit every year of his presidency to the guy who blew the surplus to deliver the first decade without any net job growth since the Depression, probably isn’t a great idea.
5. Barack Obama hasn’t had any 9/11s yet.
I hope I didn’t jinx us. I know this is a horrible thing to brag about, and President Obama never would. But with Jeb Bush making the ridiculous boast that his brother “kept us safe,” we should consider this a key metric.
We should also consider this:
There are plenty of reasons to criticize President Obama. But as usual, none of them are heard from Republicans.
For instance, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are definitely disasters — as they were when Obama came into office. The difference is only a few Americans are dying in these disasters each year, rather than the dozens of casualties a year that the president inherited in 2009.
But by almost every measure, America is better positioned now than it has been in this century. Of course, that leaves us with much to improve. Yet Republicans should try to understand that comparing the guy who dug us into a ditch to the guy who dug us out makes them appear craven and delusional. Which is possibly why the Republican base enjoys it so much.